Brown Lentils (Whole Dried)
Organic Brown Lentils (Lens esculenta), sometimes called "Spanish Pardina," are one of the most common varieties of lentils. They are a bit smaller than other lentils and a bit firmer and are excellent at holding their shape during long cooking times. Originally from Spain's Pyrenees region, this lentil is mild in flavor so it is often paired with more assertive flavors in European and Asian cuisines.
The bushy, annual plant is a member of the legume family, growing about 16 inches tall with seed-producing pods. The dried seeds stored within those pods are the lentils themselves. After their dull-colored seed coat is removed, these vibrant, low-maintenance pearls are revealed to provide fast, easy cooking and quality nutrient supply. Lentils are part of a family of legumes collectively known as pulses, which also includes dried peas and sometimes chickpeas.
Unlike their cousin, the bean, lentils do not need to be soaked and therefore are much faster to cook. They are often paired with grains or rice to provide a complete protein. Rice and lentils make up the popular Indian dish "khichdi," as well the one of the national dishes of Egypt, "kushari." About a quarter of lentil production is from India, most of which is consumed by its domestic market.
In addition to high protein and fiber content, the lentil is also packed with iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium. Eating lentils and other pulses may help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. They are also an excellent source of folate, which is especially important during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects.